Fusion Electricity: A Pathway to Sustainable Energy

Two CommUnity representatives from the Master Programme ‘Energy for Smart Cities’ in Stockholm have joined forces to present a different event about one of the less studied alternatives for clean energy: nuclear fusion. The aim of this event was not of propaganda nor of indoctrination, curiosity and in-depth study is what Giulia Gamberi (Europe) and Srikant Anantapatnaikuni (India) wanted to promote with this seminar, sharing the knowledge with other colleagues to gain a better overview of the available technologies to achieve green energy. To do this, two field-expert researchers were asked to share their professional view both in a theoretical and a practical way: Jan Scheffel, a Plasma Physicist and Fusion Researcher, and Per Brunsell, head of the Department of Fusion Plasma Physics at KTH.

The event started with a presentation by Professor Scheffel about Fusion Energy, giving an introduction on the importance of fusion energy for the European energy mix. The question he asked is ‘why do we need fusion?’ and while asking, he showed that renewable energy sources will not be enough alone to cover Europe’s needs in a long-term perspective. A more technical part followed, where Jan described the actual principles behind nuclear fusion, including an interesting focus on the problem of plasma confinement. The research in this field, he explained, started in the early 1950’s with the soviet first Tokamak (toroidal chamber with magnetic coil) and has now brought to ITER: the world’s largest fusion experiment. It is the first reactor to produce more energy than it consumes, and it is proof that fusion is feasible. Next to this ambitious project, smaller alternative experiments are already in place and some were shown in the presentation: laser fusion, magnetized target fusion and mirror fusion plasma are only few of the existing investigations. The seminar ended with the introduction to the fusion experiment facility EXTRAP T2R located at the Alfvén laboratory, just a few steps away from the seminar room, where the second part of the event would take place.

Participants were divided in two groups for the visit to the Alfvén Laboratory of KTH following a brief snack for the public to take a short break, discuss about the lecture, and compare different points of view on the subject.

The EXTRAP T2R is one of the smallest specialized fusion experiment in Europe and Professor Brunsell shares some details about its functioning and its purpose, before leaving participants with the freedom to explore the device. A fun addition is given by a small mechanism that creates visible plasma, a practical demonstration on what was introduced before. Meanwhile, participants freely asked Per Brunsell questions about the reactor and the presentation itself as he kindly remained in the lab to discuss with all who were interested.

The EXTRAP T2R Experiement (Photo courtesy of KTH)

The whole event was meticulously organized and well suited for anyone interested, not only engineers, since the construction of the event would have caught the attention of people with diverse backgrounds. If you are curious to know more about what has been shown, you can download the full presentation from the page of the event on the CommUnity platform.


By Eugenio Luciano

In collaboration with The CommUnity Post

Published on 28 March 2018

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